I have to confess that making fresh Mozzarella Cheese may seem intimitating, but I assure you it is a rewarding task!
How to make Mozzarella Cheese is a question that many have searched for on Cook-Italian.com!
Flashback: I remember opening a large walk in refrigerator door, I could barely reach the handle. The door was made of wood and cork.
The inside of the refrigerator smelled sweet, of citrus and yeast doughs waiting for the next days creations. In this dimly lit refrigerator there was a wooden barrel which my father told me not to go into.
I moved over the lid and there they were these white round mounds of what I now know as fresh Mozzarella Cheese , Dad called it, "Scamotz" they were floating in this milky salty liquid.
I reached into the cold whey and grabbed one! I've seen this practiced before by my father and like him, I took a bite into the chilled salty and creamy ball of Mozzarella Cheese. The brine running down my cheek, wiping it quickly with my sleeve.
This is my first me memory of eating Fresh Mozzarella Cheese!
We take for granted these days the time and effort it takes to make cheese. Everything is done for us!
In our instant society no one has the time to prepare food, because of this our food is made for us, especially cheese.
I have personally tasted many a Fresh Mozzarella, especially true Mozzarella di Bufala with its salt brine flavor and distinctive taste it is indeed the true Mozzarella cheese.
Cows milk Fresh Mozzarella has a slightly sweeter taste and soft texture, but when I made my own Fresh Mozzarella I was excited and proud!
After all, I was now able to boast that the cheese my family and friends were enjoying was made by me! (it's a Chef thing)
This by far is one of the most rewarding culinary tasks that you may do akin to bread baking!
Many restaurants and Chefs are conducting cooking classes on how to make Mozzarella Cheese as well.
I feel it's exciting that people have gained an appreciation of artisan cheese making!
How to Make Great Fresh Mozzarella Cheese
The recipe and procedure was obtained with permission by Mike (mikemwa) who is an contributor to another web site you should also visit which is appropriately named Instructables, Co-Founded by Eric J. Wilhelm, Ph.D.
Mike states that he must have gone through 50-60 gallons of milk to refine this procedure!
Follow the instructions carefully and you should end up with an almost 100% foolproof batch of Mozzarella Cheese.
Plan on it taking about an hour and a half to 2 hours. As you make more batches you can cut it down to maybe an hour or so.
Use only whole milk. If you have access to farm fresh milk non pasteurized milk , even better. You may also use goat or buffalo milk.
Step 1: Equipment you will need:
8 quart pot either enameled or stainless steel. (Do not use aluminum, cast iron or other reactive pots)
Thermometer (A candy thermometer will probably work but a good digital thermometer is much better for accuracy)
Measuring cups or suitable to dissolve the Citric Acid and Rennet in
Large strainer to strain the curds from the whey
Long sharp knife to cut the curds up with
Slotted spoon to stir the curds and dip them out with
Large bowl for the drained off whey (glass is best)
Small bowl to put the curds in (glass is best)
Nylon Netting for draining Curds (Use this with the strainer. You can get this at most fabric stores, plain white)
Plain white cloth if you want to make Ricotta Cheese with the whey that is left over
Small strainer to dip out the curds
1 gallon Milk. Let the milk set out either in the gallon container or in the pot until it gets to about 50 degrees
1 Rennet tablet crushed. (The Rennet tablet is used to coagulate the milk. You can also use liquid Rennet if you can get it. You can get The Rennet tablets at many of the specialty stores )
2 teaspoons Citric Acid divided. 1 teaspoon is dissolved in water and the other one is sprinkled directly into the milk. (The citric acid is what gives the cheese it's stretch. You may find it at some health food stores)
1/2 cup water divided in 2. (Do not use chlorinated water. Bottled water is fine)
1 - 2 teaspoons salt
Step 2: Pour 1 teaspoon Citric Acid into 1/4 cup un-chlorinated water and stir. Crush the Rennet tablet and pour it into the other cup of un-chlorinated water. The Citric Acid should be dissolved by the time you have to use it. Most of the Rennet will be dissolved but there will still be some residue left.
If you haven't done so already, pour milk into your pot. Make sure the milk is around 50 degrees when you pour in the Citric Acid
Step 3: Pour in the Citric Acid. Pour the dissolved Citric Acid in the milk and stir for 1 minute. Sprinkle the other teaspoon of Citric Acid in the milk and sir for another minute. You will probably see the milk start to curdle very shortly.
Step 4: Heat milk to 88-90 degrees F. Stirring occasionally. This is not an error, you are not trying to pasteurize the milk. If you get it too hot or too cold, the Rennet will not make curds. Use a low heat so it doesn't go past the 88-90 degrees. It should take about 10-15 minutes.
Step 5: At 88-90 degrees turn off the heat and stir in the Rennet solution for 15-20 seconds. Cover the pot with the lid and LEAVE IT SET UNDISTURBED FOR AT LEAST 15-20 MINUTES until you can get a clean break. I usually let mine set for 15-30 minutes. Time is not critical here as long as you get the clean break.
Step 6: Wait for a clean break. This is what a clean break looks like. When you poke your finger into it and move for an inch or so and lift it out, the curd and whey should separate shortly. If it is still liquid and sticks to your finger let it set a while longer.
Step 7: Cut the curd. Cut the curds into 1/2 inch cubes from top to bottom as shown. Then do the same thing at a 45 degree angle.
Step 8: Let the curds set undisturbed for 5-10 minutes. Just let them sit there.
Step 9: Apply low heat and heat to 108 degrees. Stir the curds occasionally to keep them separated until they reach 108 degrees. This will take about 15 minutes. The curds will shrink and start to sink as the whey is expelled from them.
Step 10: Turn off the heat. Turn off the heat and continue stirring every few minutes for an additional 20 minutes. The curds will keep shrinking.
Step 11: Drain the curds.
Drain the curds into a strainer or colander and let set for about 15 minutes. Either use a small strainer to dip them out or just pour into the big bowl through the large strainer. Let the Curds drain until no more whey comes out of them. This might take 10 - 15 minutes. You can either dump the whey or save it to make Ricotta.
Step 12: Pour the curds into the smaller bowl. Pour the curds into the smaller bowl and break them up with your hand a little bit.
Here is where it gets fun!
Place the curds in the microwave on high for 30 - 45 seconds. If you have it on too long you will cook the curd and it will turn to mush. Better a couple shorter cycles than one that's too long. The curds will start to separate from the whey. I have an 1100 watt microwave. If yours is a different wattage you might have to adjust the time.
Step 13: Heat the curd.
Step 14: Squeeze the curds Using the slotted spoon or your hand GENTLY squeeze the whey from the curd. Pour off the whey.
Step 15: Microwave again.
Microwave again for 15 - 20 seconds and pour more whey off. As you are gently squeezing the whey out work it into a ball also.
Step 16: Stretching
Microwave again. Put back in the microwave for another 20 seconds. Add Salt. At this point if it's warm enough it should start to become pliable and stretchy. Grab 1/3 to 1/2 of the mass and lift. It should start to stretch under it's own weight. If not put it in the microwave for a few more seconds. As you work through the stretching process also knead it like bread a couple times. If necessary microwave occasionally until your cheese looks like the last picture.
Step 17: Work it into a ball. At this point knead it like bread dough into a ball. If it breaks apart on you just put it in the Microwave again for a bit. As soon as it is nice and smooth and shiny it's done.
You now have some Fresh Home Made Mozzarella Cheese.
Step 18: Behold in wonder, your fresh Mozzarella Cheese!
Step 19: Final notes.
Out of gallon of milk you should expect to 12-18 ounces of cheese. I believe it depends on how much you work it. Wrap your cheese in plastic or put in a resealable locking bag and refrigerate it. But eat your cheese fresh!. It should keep in the refrigerator for at least 6-10 days.
Fresh Made Ricotta Cheese
With the left over whey you can make great Ricotta Cheese. Heat the whey to 200 degrees and allow it to cool to 140 degrees. Stain the whey in a coffee filter basket, if it all does not fit wait till it has drained and continue filtering it. Repeat this procedure until all the whey has been filtered. You may discard the remaining liquid once it is all filtered.
This is what it should look like!
Here are some more cheese making resources